"My 9-month-old often refuses to let my husband put him back in his crib at night. I have to go in and nurse him every time he's up in order for him to go back to bed and sometimes even then he doesn't want to go back in his crib!"
Big Changes Bring Big Challenges
During the second half of baby's first year, physical, social, and emotional changes continue to accelerate. Your tiny, helpless, mysterious, unpredictable newborn is long gone. Your little one is now active, everywhere, experimenting, emotional, and exhausting! For several months, your baby has been sleeping for longer stretches and you might have had a moment or two where you felt, well...rested. Then sometime around 9 months, you are faced with two common challenges that leave you confused. First, your baby seems very clingy, not wanting to be separated from you even for a few moments and second, he starts to wake a little more often and is stubborn about going back to sleep. Both of these changes can be frustrating for parents but if it is all reassuring to you, these changes are also a normal part of babies' development.
As babies become more able to move away from their parents by crawling, pulling up, rolling, and taking steps, their minds and instincts tell them NOT to stray too far. They might even become anxious if you aren't within sight. "Separation anxiety" is used to describe babies' distress when they realize that mom and dad are not close-by. As your baby gets older, his emotions will seem more intense and you'll find he is less likely to be swayed or quieted by distractions. Complicating things further, babies tend to wake more often between 9 and 12 months for several reasons including changes in routine and the drive to practice new physical skills. So, from your baby's perspective, his desire to be in your arms makes a lot of sense. While playing with your husband may be wonderful and fun during the day, your baby knows that all his anxieties melt away while he's nursing. Therefore, you are the one he wants when darkness and separation become frightening.
So, mystery solved, right?
Except...that you probably want to know what you might do to get a little more rest. That's a lot tougher. We'll share some ideas next time.
Next time: Ideas to Help with a Waking 9-Month-Old